MA: Fentanyl exposures lead to Falmouth Hospital ER diversions

Healthcare Facility Drug Diversion Incident

Officials at Falmouth Hospital temporarily diverted all patients heading to the Emergency Department after an incident involving the drug fentanyl.

A statement from Cape Cod Healthcare Senior Vice-President of Marketing Pat Kane said that earlier in the day on Thursday, a patient in possession of fentanyl entered the Emergency Department. Contamination occurred and several employees were exposed and are being treated.

The local HAZMAT team was called and arrived on site. As a result, the Falmouth Fire Chief put the Emergency Department on diversion – which means patients will temporarily be sent elsewhere for care.

Kane said they are coordinating with the towns, Cape Cod Hospital, and others to ensure all patients will be provided with care until they get clearance. He called it an “ongoing situation,” and said more information would be provided when the diversion is lifted.

UPDATE: Falmouth Hospital Emergency Room has reopened and is receiving patients as of 6:15 PM.

Thursday evening, Falmouth Fire-Rescue released the following statement: At approximately 2:00 PM Thursday, the Falmouth Fire Rescue responded to the Falmouth Hospital campus to assist the Falmouth Police Department with an evaluation of a male subject found outside on a bench. The patient was evaluated and transported to the Falmouth Hospital Emergency Room. During the process of transferring the patient, the individual became combative and while trying to control the situation several public safety personnel and hospital staff were exposed to a substance that was on the patient. As a result, personnel quickly developed symptoms of light headiness and other similar effects and at least 3 personnel required administration of Narcan because of this exposure.

Due to this evolving incident and in consultation with the hospital administration, a decision was made to place the Emergency Room on diversion and incoming ambulance transports were directed to other areas hospitals.

The patient was isolated in a treatment room and due to the nature of this unknown substance, a request for the State HazMat team was made.

When on scene they developed a plan to identify the substance and then to determine the extent of the contamination and then to decide on the best course of action to decontaminate the area, ambulances, and personnel. Resources from the Department of Fire Services responded to support the HazMat teams during this operation to assist our department.

It was eventually determined that the substance contained fentanyl, a very potent opioid drug, as well as other detected chemicals.

After an extensive decontamination process, the areas of exposure were deemed safe, and the Emergency Room services were returned to normal operations on or about 7:00 p.m. All exposed public safety personnel and hospital staff were evaluated and released and reported no further symptoms after the initial exposure.

We wish to extend our sincere appreciation for the response from the Department of Fire Services (DFS) and members of the State HazMat team for their professional and expert assistance. In addition, personnel from the DFS Special Operations Rehab services and the Canteen unit from the Providence Special Signal Association were on hand to support personnel on the scene.

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